Xonthal’s Tower

In which our heroes explore Xonthal’s tower.

Note: This recap covers several sessions.

After taking another wrong turn in the maze, the group came across a long corridor lined with gigantic flowers, each one with a pearl in the center of it. Roscoe couldn’t help himself and tried to grab one, only to have the flowers animate and attack! The heroes ran away only to find themselves turned around and coming right back to the garden again. They wisely chose to take one out from a safe distance and then Flint used mage hand to pick up the pearl. This allowed them to return to the sundial.

By this time, Skie had had enough of this place. In frustration, she climbed up on the sundial only to find herself getting sucked down inside. The others were astonished but quickly followed suit. They all found themselves being unceremoniously dumped around yet another sundial (or was it the same one?). This time, however, there were eight shadows, one pointing to each of the eight paths.

Again, Skie was not having any of it. She looked over the hedge for the direction of the tower and headed straight for it, cutting her way through the hedge in the process. She disappeared through the hedge. When she didn’t reappear, the others followed again, and they were all amazed to find themselves standing at the base of the tower!

Looking back, they could see a straight path leading past the sundial and back out to the village. They had solved the maze! That said, there still didn’t seem to be any way inside the tower. Unless the teleportation circle on the ground in front of them was the way. They stepped onto it as a group and almost immediately were transported into an antechamber. Two balconies overlooked a room containing a long table. A dead cultist lay on the floor. A panel covered in symbols was set into the wall behind them.

Roscoe had Keo lift him up so he could see over the edges of the balconies. Nothing of interest was up there, so the curious halfling took a good look at the symbols on the panel instead. Since there were no stairs, the group figured they would have to teleport around the tower. Roscoe suggested trying the star symbol first, as it probably indicated an observatory of some kind, which would most likely be at the top of the tower, where the balcony was.

Roscoe turned out to be correct! As the group examined the observatory, a group of cultists came through a door leading out onto the balcony and attacked! One appeared to be the leader, a mage of sorts, but he was quickly taken down by the heroes’ combined might. But one of his underlings grabbed an hourglass-shaped device from his leader’s body and made a dash for the teleport pad, vanishing before the heroes could stop him.

They’d seen which symbol he’d pressed and followed, finding themselves in a shrine of sorts, with an altar in the center of the room with the skeletal arms of a dragon attached to it. There were numerous cultists in the room, the walls of which were adorned with pictures of skeletal dragons.

Keo used his magic to paralyze the cultist with the hourglass key and quickly retrieved it, but not before one of the other cultists had animated the skeletal arms, which swiped at him as he came within reach.

The heroes retreated back to the teleport pad and went back to the antechamber, where they figured out that they had to press the hourglass device to the teleport pad in order to make it work. They found themselves in a dungeon corridor in which the bodies of several cultists lay dead. There was also a bit of blood leading down a side corridor.

Flint turned Roscoe invisible and the halfling crept down the corridor. At the end, he found a laboratory guarded by several elemental beings in plate armor. On a table behind them stood a small chest. Unable to resist, he crept past the guardians, as silent as a mouse, and managed to lift the chest without making a sound. He crept back to the others. Inside the chest were some scrolls of protection that would help them against the elementals.

As it happened, the scrolls didn’t work all that well, as the group still ended up having to fight their way past the elementals. Luckily, there was a way out near the way in, and the elementals didn’t pursue them out of the room they guarded.

Beyond the lab, there was another side passage leading to a closed door and some stairs leading down. Roscoe went and listened at the door. Hearing a whirling sound, he decided to leave it for now and crept down the stairs instead. He found himself staring at a stone path that led out into a black, starry void. Several doors stood on the edge of the path, with no walls to support them.

Feeling a bit disturbed, Roscoe reported back to the others. They decided to ignore a side passage at the top of the stairs and head down to the first door at the bottom. This door opened into a library. Flint was overjoyed and wanted to give it a good once over. The others agreed. Roscoe found a fake book on the bottom shelf at the back of the room and pulled on it, revealing a secret door in the bookshelf that opened into another room containing a magic view screen showing nothing but flames … before Roscoe could take a closer look, however, hundreds of sheets of parchment stacked neatly by a desk whirled up into the air, forming into swarms of paper birds that proceeded to attack the heroes!

As the paper swarms seemed endless, the heroes retreated out into the strange corridor, finding to their great relief that the swarms did not follow them. Roscoe went to find out what was at the other end of the path through the void. As he proceeded down, he had to dodge some little meteors that went streaking past him suddenly. At the far end, he found another door, a passage to the left leading to a second door, and a passage to the right that actually had walls and a ceiling!

As the heroes proceeded cautiously down the path, Skie was hit by meteors and knocked off the path. In a flash, she disappeared into the void! Unbeknownst to her stunned companions, she soon found herself falling through the ceiling into a room that appeared to be a private study. Picking herself up, she went for a door in the wall, which opened up in the bookshelf, ten feet off the floor of the library!

Hearing Skie call from the still-open library door, the others hurried back across the treacherous path to find their friend still alive! What a strange place this was!

This time they all managed to get across the path safely. Roscoe peeked through the door directly ahead and found it to be an empty storage cupboard. Creeping up the normal passage to the right, the heroes discovered an efreeti playing a game by himself in the middle of a closed room. Keo noticed a line of salt along the floor at the door and surmised that the genie was trapped within.

The group decided not to bother the efreeti and went to the other door, which opened into an hourglass-shaped room with two giant hourglasses in it. Roscoe could see the glint of gems within the sand in the hourglasses. More importantly, though, they had found the defector, Iskander! Or at least what was left of him. He appeared to be dead of wounds he’d suffered at the hands of his fellow cultists and the elemental guardians at the other end of the dungeon. In his cold hand was clutched the blue dragon mask!

Flint took the mask and looked it over. He then cast detect magic and was surprised to pick up a number of magic auras from the gems inside the hourglasses! Smashing the glass from a safe distance, the heroes proceeded to sift through the spilled sand to pick out the magic gems. After Flint had inspected them, he discovered that each one could be used to teleport a short distance once. After its power was used, the gem would disappear. What an interesting find!

Before departing the dungeon, the heroes looted the library, finding some valuable books on various subjects, and checked out the side door with the whirling sound coming from the other side. There was another lab on the other side, with a great whirlwind spinning around in the middle of the room, several gems whirling around within it.

Once again, Roscoe couldn’t help himself and tried to catch a gem. He actually managed it a few times before merely knocking one out of the whirlwind. As it shattered, it summoned an angry earth elemental! Before they group knew it, two more gems had smashed, and they were faced with an air elemental and a fire elemental as well! They retreated, leaving the earth and fire elementals to duke it out with each other while they dealt with just the air elemental.

The heroes then decided it would be a good idea to rest before heading back into the upper levels of the tower. Nothing came to bother them in this strange, extra-dimensional space. Once they were refreshed, they made a mad dash past the elemental guardians and made it safely back to the teleport pad.

They battled their way through the tower only to find a blue dragon waiting for them outside. It turned out to be none other than Lennithon, the blue dragon that had assisted the cult in its raid on the town of Greenest! The dragon wanted them to hand over the blue mask, which Flint had determined was an elaborate fake. Not wanting to let the dragon know that they knew it was a fake (because they weren’t sure if it knew), they refused to hand it over at first. They tried to flee, but the remaining cultists and the dragon stopped them.

Eventually they agreed to hand the mask over to the dragon and then Keo turned everyone into mist and they fled through the maze, past the burning ashes of the village, and back out over the wilderness to Loudwater, where they took the secret Harper teleportation circle back to Waterdeep.

There they reported to the council that they had defeated the cultists in the tower but had been unable to take it because of the dragon. They also told them how the mask had been a fake. The factions were all rather disappointed by this turn of events.

 

Lost in the Maze

Sometime after the attack on Waterdeep, Roscoe received a flying snake with a note from another agent of the Zhentarim. Within the note was a letter from a member of the Cult of the Dragon named Iskander, who claimed to want to defect with the blue dragon mask from a place called Xonthal’s Tower. Roscoe showed the letter to his friends. They took it to the council.

Everyone seemed to be of one accord: It was most likely a trap, but the risk was worth it, especially if the heroes could secure the tower for the alliance. Given its relative proximity to the Well of Dragons, the alliance would like to use it in the coming assault on the cult.

The heroes agreed to go investigate. Once again taking advantage of the Harpers’ secret teleportation network, the heroes zipped to Loudwater, then Keo turned them all into clouds and they wind-walked the rest of the way to the village of Xonthal’s Tower.

In the village, they learned that the maze surrounding the tower was magical and quite probably extradimensional. It was designed to keep people out but was also the only way to gain access to the interior of the tower. As the heroes stood at the entrance, gazing inside, they saw a figure up on a balcony near the top of the tower. Using magic to amplify his voice, the figure waved something that could have been the blue dragon mask and yelled out to find him in the dungeon below, accessible only with an hourglass-shaped key. Another figure appeared on the balcony and attacked the first but was ultimately thrown off the balcony. The first figure ran back inside.

Realizing they didn’t have time to dawdle, the heroes climbed over the fence the villagers had erected in front of the maze entrance to keep children and animals out and proceeded down the gently curving pathway. They soon came to an intersection with a sundial at its center. Even though the sun was setting to the west, the sundial cast a shadow straight ahead.

For some reason, they chose to turn around and go back the way they’d come. Instead of ending up back at the entrance, they instead encountered a dao disguised as a man, who invited them to join him for tea in a pagoda perched on a rock in the middle of a pond. The dao attempted to trap them with a wall of stone and poison them with drakeswort fumes, but the heroes resisted. After defeating the earth genie, they found a gem inside its tea pot.

Moving on, they returned to the same sundial (or an identical one). This time they decided to take the path towards which the shadow was pointing. After a short while, they came to another intersection with a sundial in the middle (or was it the same one?), only this time there were two shadows, pointing at right angles to each other!

Taking a path seemingly at random, the heroes came across a large, circular pool with another gem floating above its center. As Flint used his mage hand to collect the gem, four overgrown lobster-like monsters – which the wizard recognized as chuuls – emerged from the water to attack. As Flint and the others grappled with the creatures’ massive claws and paralyzing tentacles, the wizard remembered that the creatures liked magic items. He took out Dragongleam, the magic spear the party had found in Talis’ hunting lodge but had never used, and commanded it to shed light before tossing it into the pool. Sure enough, the chuuls all dove back into the water (with the exception of one that Keo had confused), and the heroes were free to escape with the captured gem.

This brought them back to the sundial with two shadows, although it may have been a different one. It was hard to tell, as the maze was extremely disorienting. Although they could almost always see Xonthal’s tower rising above the hedge walls, it never seemed to stay in one place. Marking their passage through the maze proved futile as well, as their markings either disappeared or the maze never allowed them to return to the same place twice. It was all thoroughly confusing.

The next path they took brought them to a large field full of boulders. To one side was a sheep pen and an oversized cottage. In the middle of the field were some sheep being tended by two cyclopes. All of the creatures seemed frozen in time but they came to life as soon as the heroes entered the area. The cyclopes played some kind of game and the loser came towards the heroes, picking up a massive boulder along the way. Instead of hurling it at the heroes, however, it turned and tossed it most of the way down the field. Both cyclopes then looked at the heroes expectantly. Keo approached and spoke to the cyclops in Giant, learning that they were expected to toss a boulder of their own further than the one the cyclops had tossed.

After some discussion of options, Flint ended up using stone shape to transform a boulder into pumice. Skie was then able to hurl it with enough force that it ended up bouncing past the cyclopes’ boulder, which promptly split open, revealing another gem inside. Roscoe took the gem and the group left.

They came back to the sundial with two shadows (or another one just like it). This time they took the path between the two shadows, which led them straight to an intersection with a sundial with three shadows! These shadows formed a Y shape. They chose to take the path leading between the two arms of the Y, which brought them to a fourth sundial. This one had four shadows, and as they approached it, the shadows began to swirl faster and faster and grew smaller and smaller until they disappeared within the center of the sundial.

Unsure of how to proceed, the heroes took another path at random, which led them to a carpeted area with bits of armor strewn all about and several suits of plate armor on pedestals to either side.

As the heroes entered, two of the suits came to life and attacked. As the battle progressed, the heroes discovered that each time they destroyed one suit of armor, two more animated. Once all six full suits animated, bits and pieces from the ground started coming together to form more suits.

Although a gem had rolled out of the first suit they’d destroyed, it took the heroes a while to battle their way through to the other end. Flint even went down at one point, surrounded by suits. They stopped attacking him once he was down, though, and he managed to stay alive long enough for his companions to rescue him by hooking him with a grappling hook and pulling him out from between the suits of armor.

After reviving Flint, they pressed on and returned to the sundial with the swirling shadows (or another one just like the first). Stumped, they slumped to the ground to catch their breath and have a think.